How I Used Role Playing to Overcome My Fear of Public Speaking



“Acting is a nice childish profession – pretending you’re someone else and, at the same time, selling yourself.” –Katharine Hepburn

I used to be terrified of public speaking, social engagements and looking into anyone’s eyes when exceeding a glance. It turns out, shyness will not get you very far in the business world. Sure, it’s absolutely adorable when you’re with your posse or on that awkward first date. Nevertheless, it’s a hindrancewhen you run a company. When I began my company, Pretty Girl Movement LLC, I knew that I needed to overcome my obstacle and learn to talk to people.

(Side note: I genuinely attribute my ability to identify my entrepreneurial deficiencies to two specific books. I highly recommend them: Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie and Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal. Each reference utilizes the Gallup assessment tool to identify your personal strengths.)

I identified a major personality and entrepreneurial deficiency. Realistically, I could have accepted my deficiency but I also would’ve had to accept never reaching my peak as an entrepreneur. Mediocrity does not belong in the entrepreneurial toolbox.

I took an acting class, and it was like a light switch turned on. I went from standing in the corner of a crowded room to dancing in the middle of the room highly intoxicated and engaging. Seriously – nothing is more liberating than acting. I learned to act the way I wanted to be perceived.

In order to be an effective entrepreneur, you need to be able to sell yourself. I realized that Jordyn Short and Jordyn Short, CEO and Founder of Pretty Girl Movement, are two completely different roles. By nature, I am still very shy and quiet. Nonetheless, when I am in my role as CEO, I am fearless.

Let’s explore why selling yourself is important:

  1. Networking is important. Make the most of your social opportunities.

Anyone can buy a ticket to a conference, listen to the keynote speakers and leave with lessons learned and newly acquired ideas. If the aforementioned is your reasons for attending conferences, I would highly suggest you save your $300+, because you can attain those assets from a free TEDtalks online seminar, a book or a YouTube video.

On the flip side, if you are entrepreneurial smart, then make the most of every single social opportunity by selling yourself. For instance, that $300+ conference probably has unreserved seating, a provided lunch and a block of time designated for networking. Use that time to talk to your peers. Don’t go looking for a deserted table to hideaway. Scan the room and sit at the table filled with people. Throw the appropriate day’s greeting into the air (i.e. “Good morning everyone”, “Good afternoon”… whatever). Look left, right, and across the table and slip your name into the atmosphere (i.e. “My name is Jordyn. What is yours?”). Dish out a couple of inquiries (i.e. “Why are you here? — Please find something more eloquent to say, but you get the basic concept).  Before you know it, people will know your name, title and reason for attendance. You may find that you meet interesting people and make potential business connections.

  1. If you can’t sell yourself, then how are you supposed to sell things to people?

The definition of sales is “the exchange of a commodity for money”. I have analyzed the definition of sales on numerous occasions and one word completely steals my attention: exchange. A few synonyms for the term exchange are networkcommunication and interrelation. Sales represent an entrepreneur’s ability to communicate effectively in order to achieve marketability and convince the consumer to buy his/her good or services.

If you have trouble walking up to people and simply stating your name, then you’re at quite a disadvantage. Talking is a necessity. The only way to market your brand is to market yourself. Perfect examples: handing out business cards, hanging flyers, talking to marketing representatives, etc. People can only buy what you sell. If you are handing out business cards without any sort of commentary, then you are literally selling Vista Print and wasting your time.

If you can’t convey who you are and what you do, then you should consider one of two options: 1) rectify your deficiency or 2) choose a new profession because you are single-handedly crippling your own ability to succeed. If you want to become successful, then you need to be able to communicate.

  1. Even social media requires you to have a voice and know your role.

Simply stated, if you don’t consistently post, tweet, comment, and reply, then people will forget you. Your followers have followers and they follow other followers. You are just a number. The less you post, the less people remember.

Additionally, people don’t like impersonal posts. If all of your posts look like generic ads, then people will simply unfollow you. They will begin to catch on to the fact that you are trying to sell them your brand. No one wants to buy from someone trying to sell.

Let me tell you a little secret that I learned when I started utilizing social media as a platform of advertisement: people want to follow you. People want to feel like they’re following me, not Pretty Girl Movement LLC. They want to feel like they’re following a person on a journey. People buy t-shirts because they represent a journey toward something positive. They don’t want to feel like they are putting money in your pocket. They want to feel and know that they are adding value to their own lives.

Social media is your opportunity to sell your vision – your dream. Celebrities are the most followed entities on social media platforms because people are infatuated with their personal lives. When you add the title CEO to your name, you instantly become more interesting than the average Instagram user. Own your role.

I will openly admit I do not have all of the answers to success or some magic formula to increasing profit and sales. However, I can tell you from experience that lacking effective communication skills will have you stuck in the entrepreneurial troposphere.


Jordyn Short is the CEO, Founder and Creative Director of Pretty Girl Movement, LLC. The 24-year-old fitness enthusiast is an active duty soldier and college senior majoring in cyber-security at the University of Maryland University College. She is currently stationed in Washington, DC.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Kheel Center

About the author: Under30CEO

Under30CEO is the leading media property for entrepreneurs, inspiring the world’s next generation of business leaders. Under30CEO features direct interviews with the most successful young people on the planet, profiles twenty-something startups, provides advice from those who have done it before, and publishes cutting edge news for the young entrepreneur.

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